GENTLY constructing this weekly waffle on the train to Sandwich yesterday, while gazing wistfully out of the window as I got writer’s block shortly after typing the word “Sandwich”, I felt a bit like George Bradshaw piecing together his celebrated railway companions, guides and navigational compendiums.

“Seldom has the gigantic intellect of man been employed upon a work of greater utility,” wrote the cooing critics of ye day as they waxed lyrical about the bold Bradshaw’s meaty endeavours. The likeness with the Tuesday column really is uncanny isn’t it?

After hitting the buffers last year due to this pesky pandemic, The Open Championship is back on track as the 149th staging of golf’s most storied major finally takes place this week.

READ MORE: Scottish Open: World No 240 Min Woo Lee triumphs after play-off following 90-minute weather delay

And it’s nice to be on site again, despite all the protocols, procedures, plooters and palavers. A regular lateral flow test, for instance, has now become as basic a human requirement as oxygen, water and a decent pair of socks.

Knowing the all-consuming fever and frenzy that an Open can whip up, this correspondent may not have much flow, let alone lateral flow, by the championship’s conclusion.

The Claret Jug has been in the hands of Shane Lowry since Sunday, July 21, 2019. The Irishman has got so used to it being around him, Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive, probably had to jemmy it out of his clutches with the jaws of life when Lowry turned up at Royal St George’s.

This most southerly venue on The Open rota has been buffeted by some fairly boisterous weather in recent days but the forecast for the championship looks rather pleasant. That’s a blessing, at least, for one of my dear golf writing colleagues who is staying in a tent on a coastal campsite for the opulent sum of 11 quid a night.

One can’t imagine the exalted correspondent Henry Longhurst writing so enthusiastically had he been billeted under a flimsy, billowing sheet during a particularly atrocious day in this parish of merry old England back in 1938. “Outside the sea was swishing and roaring and boiling and dashing itself against the promenade,” he wrote from the comfort of a hotel in Deal. “I leapt out of bed and saw a really splendid game blowing up.”

What will blow up this week remains to be seen but the golfing summer feels normal again now that its greatest showpiece is back in its usual spot.

The indomitable, undulating delights of Royal St George’s have always intrigued. Back in 2003, the unheralded Ben Curtis, ranked a lowly 396th in the world, won the Claret Jug. Eight years later in 2011, the last time The Open was held at Sandwich, the 42-year-old Darren Clarke won his first major at 111th on the global pecking order.

From 2012 onwards, every major played had been won by a player inside the world’s top-50, a run ended by Phil Mickelson, who was 115th when he won the US PGA Championship earlier this year.

Normal service was resumed with Jon Rahm’s US Open success but will a return to St George’s see a return to the outsider conquering again? In this game, predictions tend to be a fool’s errand. With a Scottish Open field last week featuring four of the world’s top-10 among its glittering cavalcade of big names, did many of you pick the world No.240 Min Woo Lee as the winner before it started? The richness of golf’s variety continues to entice.

The potential storylines, meanwhile, are as abundant as ever. Rahm, the world No.1, will be aiming to become just the seventh golfer to do a US Open and Open double whammy while Rory McIlroy continues his quest to bridge a major-winning gap of seven years.

When he was blown out of contention on his last visit to St George’s in 2011 amid the meteorological tumult of round three, his withering assessment of links golf in the downbeat aftermath had many questioning his resolve.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to America and some nice conditions,” he whined. “I’m not a fan of tournaments when the outcome is predicted so much by the weather.” McIlroy concedes he was more “impulsive” back then. With his game still a work in progress, we await to see which Rory turns up this week.

And what of someone like Louis Oosthuizen? The canny South African has completed the career grand slam of runners-up finishes and has been second in the last two majors this year. A sole Open victory at St Andrews in 2010 seems a meagre major return for a player of such enduring presence and consistency in the game’s biggest events.

But then, winning a major was never meant to be easy was it?

From its inception at Prestwick in 1860, it wasn’t until 1894 that The Open ventured south of the border to St George’s for the first time. The great J H Taylor won it for England but there were eight Scots in the top-10. Here in 2021, there will be just one in the entire field.

Like putting a cloot through a mangle, we’ll be wringing poor old Robert MacIntyre dry. As ever with an Open, though, there will be plenty to write home about.